In June 1990, an earthquake of catastrophic proportions struck Northern Iran, killing tens of thousands of people and causing untold damage. After the disaster, Abbas Kiarostami and his son decided to travel from Tehran to the area around Koker, a village where he made Where Is the Friend’s House? four years earlier, in search of the two child actors who starred in the film. The events of the trip and the story of a young man Kiarostami met along the way, who got married immediately after the disaster, stayed with him, and he decided to return to make a film there. In the fictionalised account of Kiarostami’s journey, as father and son move further into the countryside, the purpose of their mission fades and gives way to a sense of hope amid the rubble. When the locals refused to wear dirty clothes for the re-enactments and instead showed up in their finest attire, Kiarostami replied, “Why not? We are not portraying reality; we are making a film.”
“The disarming centerpiece of a trilogy of films by Abbas Kiarostami, this work heads towards the same place that Roberto Rossellini set out for in the 1950s. It takes a far-sighted approach to one of the major cinematic themes of the last 15 years – the blurring of all boundaries between ‘found’ and ‘staged’ images. A film director from Tehran travels with his young son into the mountains of northern Iran, where a major earthquake has recently claimed the lives of over 50,000 people. As he passes through villages and camps he searches for the main actors from his last film Where Is The Friend’s Home? – which was indeed the first film in Kiarostami’s trilogy. The filmmaker is played by an actor, and the switch between his perspective and that of his son subtly heightens the level of reflection. However, much of what the pair find is ‘real’, not least the strength and optimism of the survivors – in many places their main concern is to install TV aerials in time to watch the Football World Cup which is due to start soon.”
“And Life Goes On speaks of a perseverance of being, in being, that makes us think inevitably of Spinoza. But it is not necessary to stop at Spinoza. Rather, one must add this: this perseverance, this continuation – which is not simply a continuity – is nothing else but being itself. Being is not something; it is that something goes on. It is that it continues, neither above nor below the moments, events, singularities and individuals that are discontinuous, but in a manner that is stranger yet: in discontinuity itself, and without fusing it into a continuum. It continues to discontinue, it discontinues continuously. Like the images of the film.
(On this point, it is of little importance that the original of the title in Persian says something slightly different: rather ‘life and nothing more,’ ‘only life,’ and therefore ‘I do not want (to show) anything else but life, simply life.’ Because this means: here, the film does nothing but continue, it shows a continuation, that of a story [before this film, there was another film, and they are looking for one of the young actors, they do not know if he survived], that of a journey [the search], that of the life of the people after the earthquake, that of life in the film, and as film. It registers the continuation of several intertwined continuations, linked together or interlocking with one another.)”
- 1. Jean-Luc Nancy, Abbas Kiarostami: L’Évidence du film / The Evidence of Film (Brussels: Yves Gevaert, 2001), 60.